The Ohio House, by a 63-30 vote, passed House Bill 605, which many believe will put Internet cafes out of business. The bill now goes to the Senate in hopes of a final vote before the legislative session ends later this month.
Among the provisions of HB 605:
- Internet cafes would have to register with the attorney general’s office;
- Clarifies definitions of such terms as sweepstakes, scheme of chance and sweepstakes terminal device;
- Daily cash payouts or merchandise prizes above $10 would be banned;
- Establishes criminal penalties for violators.
Opponents of these sweepstakes cafes have maintained that such businesses are illegal gambling that need to be stopped. Proponents claim the cafes are merely selling a product and the prizes are a marketing tool to promote the product.